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When your fish needs the Heimlich: Spirulina Brine Shrimp Episode


PineSong
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This AM I put a couple of small pinches of Hikari Spirulina Brine Shrimp in my QT tank for the 3 mollies and 3 platies that are in there.

A few minutes later, one of the mollies was tossing and turning and appearing distressed.  I went over to look and he had such a big wad of the food in his mouth that he could not close his mouth. He was clearly distressed, and stayed kind of frozen and still in the water without his usual crazy swimming whenever I approach the tank.

I did not know what to do and thought handling him would only make him more scared, but wished I could give him the Heimlich. I checked on him 'til I had to leave for work--about 30 minutes later, and he still could not shut his mouth.

I expected when I came home that I would find him dead, TBH.

He was not dead when I came home but wasn't acting normally either, hiding in the plants, and one of the other mollies was being rough with him. I've never seen them be physical with each other.

I checked the package to make sure I hadn't missed a recommendation that I should have soaked the food first, and it doesn't say anything about not adding it directly to the tank.

My question: is it possible he actually hurt himself by getting too large a mouthful of food? If you feed this food, do you soak it first?

 

 

 

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This is not something that I have experienced, I am curious if anyone has dealt with something like this. Was the food still visible in their mouth when you got back home? If it looked like choking, I would have probably attempted to hold the fish, and remove food with like plant tweezers, but I don't know if that would have been the right move or not.

I don't really have experience with mollies, but I know from my danios, when one gets stressed, the others seem to bully the stressed one, (not immediately, and they might just be upset that they don't want to play too) not sure if this is a culling the herd type instinct, or something else.

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@PineSong Also, I'm assuming that this is frozen Spirulina brine shrimp? I'm not sure if I've ever fed that brand, but I'm sure I have, I currently have the San Fransisco Bay brand, but I've never had a problem with this or any frozen food, by just throwing the cube in frozen, it thaws pretty quickly in the water.

Edited by Wellxam
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@PineSong if you can still see the food, I’d recommend getting a pair of cosmetic tweezers, netting the fish up to the surface of the water, and trying to gently remove the food. I’ve done this when my gourami had a piece of something hanging out of its mouth that it couldn’t seem to dislodge.

Are you feeding the freeze dried version? I have freeze dried brine shrimp and have noticed it tends to expand a bit in water, but I’ve never had any fish choke on a chunk.

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On 8/24/2021 at 9:02 AM, Wellxam said:

This is not something that I have experienced, I am curious if anyone has dealt with something like this. Was the food still visible in their mouth when you got back home? If it looked like choking, I would have probably attempted to hold the fish, and remove food with like plant tweezers, but I don't know if that would have been the right move or not.

I don't really have experience with mollies, but I know from my danios, when one gets stressed, the others seem to bully the stressed one, (not immediately, and they might just be upset that they don't want to play too) not sure if this is a culling the herd type instinct, or something else.

Thanks, no. The food was not visible when I returned home, and he did come out of the plants to eat at feeding time--this time I gave them tiny Bug Bites. So his appetite was okay, but he's still hanging out in the plants in an uncharacteristic way.

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On 8/24/2021 at 9:09 AM, Wellxam said:

@PineSong Also, I'm assuming that this is frozen Spirulina brine shrimp? I'm not sure if I've ever fed that brand, but I'm sure I have, I currently have the San Fransisco Bay brand, but I've never had a problem with this or any frozen food, by just throwing the cube in frozen, it thaws pretty quickly in the water.

No, freeze dried spirulina brine shrimp--it does swell up over time when you add it to the water. I've seen an uneaten pinch expand (and presumably soften) considerably, so I crumble it as I feed it so there aren't any big chunks, but I've seen videos of people toss in a whole square (when they have many more fish to feed than I have) and the fish just swarm around and pick off little bits at a time, I guess. Maybe it was just a bad gobble that guy this molly stuck with more than he could swallow.

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On 8/24/2021 at 9:21 AM, Hobbit said:

@PineSong if you can still see the food, I’d recommend getting a pair of cosmetic tweezers, netting the fish up to the surface of the water, and trying to gently remove the food. I’ve done this when my gourami had a piece of something hanging out of its mouth that it couldn’t seem to dislodge.

Are you feeding the freeze dried version? I have freeze dried brine shrimp and have noticed it tends to expand a bit in water, but I’ve never had any fish choke on a chunk.

Luckily, when I came home his mouth was closed and apparently empty. He ate Bug Bites for supper but still seems off his game.

I was picturing trying to get the chunk out of his mouth and was too scared of poking him and making it worse, but I love the fact that you were successful with your gourami. I'm going to really break up the spirulina brine shrimp very finely or soak it ahead of time from now on. I'm sure 99.95 of the time fish eat it correctly, but now I'm gun shy.

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On 8/24/2021 at 9:07 AM, PineSong said:

Thanks, no. The food was not visible when I returned home, and he did come out of the plants to eat at feeding time--this time I gave them tiny Bug Bites. So his appetite was okay, but he's still hanging out in the plants in an uncharacteristic way.

Sounds to me that he may just be stressed, I'd watch other water parameters, maybe do a good gravel vac, make sure all other stress factors are limited, to prevent disease etc... If the other mollies are picking on that one still, separate if possible?(again, I am unfamiliar with mollies, so I don't know if they need the socialization and this would cause more stress.)

If they were choking, they will more than likely have overused a lot of muscles to try to dislodge food, so, could just be sore, so may just be a case of needing to recover from that. (I was a massage therapist for a few years), not sure if there would be a way to treat inflammation in fish muscles, other than cooler water, but that is just a guess, and would potentially lead to an increased risk of infection, and would probably not be worth the risk.

I'd keep an eye for any kind of disease, and limit stress as much as possible and hope for the best.

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On 8/24/2021 at 11:45 AM, Hobbit said:

You can give them an epsom salt bath! I forget the exact recipe—one tablespoon per gallon? (You have to make sure there’s nothing added to the Epsom salts of course.)

I’ve heard of that being an application in aquariums, and I know its used as a laxative for people, not sure if it has that effect on fish or not, could be worth looking into!

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@PineSong 

first one I’ve seen copied across a couple of websites, second one has information about all different kinds of salt, as well as a procedure for the bath, though it specifically targets bettas, I’ll attach the image of the procedure to this post as well. None of them specifically mention using it for muscular distress, but they do confirm that it acts as a muscle relaxant for them, so it should have that effect in my opinion.

https://www.hollywoodfishfarm.co.nz/product/epsom-salts-450g/

https://japanesefightingfish.org/epsom-salt-bath-for-betta/

BEF2A7BE-D884-40A6-AFB8-897428E27D1C.png

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On 8/24/2021 at 6:13 PM, Wellxam said:

@PineSong 

first one I’ve seen copied across a couple of websites, second one has information about all different kinds of salt, as well as a procedure for the bath, though it specifically targets bettas, I’ll attach the image of the procedure to this post as well. None of them specifically mention using it for muscular distress, but they do confirm that it acts as a muscle relaxant for them, so it should have that effect in my opinion.

https://www.hollywoodfishfarm.co.nz/product/epsom-salts-450g/

https://japanesefightingfish.org/epsom-salt-bath-for-betta/

Wow, I had not heard of that. It's good to have on hand--part of the mental first aid kit. My molly looks okay right now--he's not hiding this evening when I got home from work and he ate his tiny Bug Bites for dinner, so I am going to wait and see. 

My three male mollies are identical in appearance so I can't even be sure which one was the fish all this happened to--but if I could, I would be tempted to name him Gobbles.

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On 8/24/2021 at 6:16 PM, PineSong said:

I really appreciate everyone's help. It's good to know other people who understand new (to this species anyway) fishkeeper anxiety.

It's good to know I'm not alone x~D I'm glad to hear they are doing better! That's the worst feeling, when you are at work, and can't do anything but think and plan, secretly hoping that you come home and the problem fixed itself! Or worrying that doing something will be worse than waiting ... sigh

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